2023 Free National Park Days Dates in the United States
I’m a huge fan of the U.S. national parks – they are truly a gift from previous generations, and our greatest national treasure. I highly recommend getting out to visit as many as you can in your lifetime. Thankfully, for the budget-conscious among us, the U.S. National Park Service (NPS) is once again offering fee free national park days throughout the year.
2023’s 5 free national park days dates are:
- January 16, 2023: Martin Luther King Jr. Day (a Monday this year)
- April 22, 2023: National Park Week (a Saturday this year)
- August 4, 2023: Anniversary of the Great American Outdoors Act (a Friday this year)
- September 23, 2023: National Public Lands Day (a Saturday this year)
- November 11, 2023: Veterans Day (a Saturday this year)
As of yet, there will not be free admission during the entirety of “National Park Week” as there had been a number of years ago.
What Parks Participate in Free National Park Days?
The NPS oversees 423 national parks. A large majority of them do not charge entrance, admission, commercial tour, or transportation fees. 126 of them – often the highest traffic parks – do. Here’s a list of the 123 parks that typically charge entrance fees that will not on fee-free days.
Tours, camping, concessions, or third-party fees are not covered, unless the individual park states otherwise. With some national parks, it might be really hard to get camping permits for these days, unless you plan ahead and reserve now. COVID has made travel to our National Parks even more popular than normal, because of a lack of travel restrictions (versus international travel).
Among the fee-free National Park Days participants are the 10 most visited national parks, where you would otherwise have to pay to get in:
- Great Smoky Mountains National Park (Tennessee)
- Zion National Park (Utah)
- Yellowstone National Park (Wyoming)
- Grand Canyon National Park (Arizona)
- Rocky Mountain National Park (Colorado)
- Acadia National Park (Maine)
- Grand Teton National Park (Wyoming)
- Yosemite National Park (California)
- Indiana Dunes National Park (Indiana)
- Glen Canyon National Recreation Area (AZ, Utah)
If you’re looking for other parks, you can see a full national park map here.
Remember to be careful with parks that are at a high altitude, suffer from spring-time flash floods, or are in northern locations in the spring and winter. This is the untamed land, after all. Check with the park that you’re interested in visiting to identify which roads and campsites may still be closed.
If you plan on living a life of recreation this year, the NPS’s annual $80 America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreation Lands Pass is a bargain. It allows unlimited entrance to more than 2,000 federal recreation areas, including all national parks. I purchased one of these during a trip to Yosemite and Grand Teton, and we more than made our money back (versus day passes) on that trip alone. The pass lasts 12 full months after the month you buy it in.
Gold Star Families and U.S. Military Veterans Have Free Access to National Parks Indefinitely
Starting on Veteran’s Day in 2020, Gold Star families and U.S. Armed Forces veterans (including National Guard and Reserve) indefinitely have fee-free access (entrance and standard amenity fees) to national parks, wildlife refuges and other sites managed by the Department of the Interior, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish & Wildlife, and Army Corps of Engineers. This was a great idea that I am surprised wasn’t implemented before.
Identification required and more information can be found here.
Free Entrance to National Parks from your Library
National park passes are often times one of the free perks libraries offer. Check with your local library to see if they have a pass and for restrictions on how long you can reserve the pass. Warning: you may have to book it far in advance.
National Parks Discussion:
- What is your favorite national park, and why?